April 23, 2013
Comparing Charleston Race Week to other venues or events is a challenge. With big breeze, strong current, and having to share waters with 200 ft container ships, you could say it is similar to Big Boat Series in San Francisco. With lighter, shifty wind, a small venue with streetball type racing that only allows for .9 mile beats, similarities can be found inside the harbor in Newport. Being on the same course with another fleet where 70 boats are intersecting each other at high rates of speed is typical of any major regatta like Key West or Bacardi. Put all these elements together along with warmer temps, a great town and regatta village, and the promise of a lot of races, the craziness of racing in Charleston is unlike any other venue, and the draw of Charleston Race Week has made it the biggest event in the United States.
As suspected, with current changing on a daily basis and late spring weather moving through the Southeastern part of the country, each day of racing in this year’s edition of CRW was totally different. Day 1 brought a flood tide charging on either side of Fort Sumter along with a building SE breeze that would touch 28-30 kts by the end of the day. Being our first event together as a full team, we were able to get out of the blocks with good speed and solid boathandling to post an opening scoreline of 1, 8, 23, 1. Our hiccup was being OCS in race 3, and with PRO Hank Stuart basically taking enough time to have a meatball sandwich between when the starting signal sounded, and when the first boats were hailed over the radio, our bow number was called, we set the spinnaker, re-rounded the pin end and could barely read the sail numbers of the nearest boats, but fought hard for a 23rd.
With a wind direction 180 degrees opposite out of the NW, Day 2 was like a game of Chutes and Ladders where huge shifts came rumbling down the course and mixed up the fleet. There were times where we would be in the top group, leg out to the left side, tack on what we thought was a good shift only to get headed and find ourselves pointing at the transoms of the entire fleet, then getting wound back up 40 degrees and back in the top 5. After another 4 race day where shifts would super-cede the importance of current in one race, and the opposite working in the next, by the end of the day stress and anxiety finally gave way to ambivalence and thoughts of, “I hope this works out over here.”
After 2 days, our team on Oleander put together 8 solid races and found ourselves in 3rd place behind Heartbreaker, and a red hot Bacio team. It has been impressive to race against Bacio the past two events as they leaped ahead of us to take the win on the final day at Bacardi, and after posting 3 consecutive bullets to end Day 2 at CRW, all they would need was one more top 10 finish to seal the deal. The mark of a regatta winning team is not the races where a team has a great start and puts the fleet in a sleeper hold to take a win, but the races when a team can recover from a mistake after finding themselves deep, comeback and post a keeper finish. On a few occasions, I would look back see USA-13 in the 20s, only to see them battling back to a top 5 finish, salvaging their throwout and precious points. Bacio is solid on the starting line and on their upwinds, but their biggest gains seem to be downwind where they have a combo of great speed and positioning.
We had a few comebacks of our own this week, but the Melges 20 fleet has had the tough realization that having average finishes inside the top 5 wont get the job done and single digit finishes may not be enough. Our squad was excited about our 3rd place finish, and looking back, there were a few instances where we could have saved some points, but overall we sailed a solid event. Jim Wilson has done an awesome job driving the 20 in only his 4th event, and having Dan Morris step into the front without any majors was a huge key to posting a good result.
Up Next –
This 3 week regatta stint is on its final leg, and it is off to Peter Island in the BVI’s for the final event in the Melges 32 Carribean Series. Voted by Conde’ Naste as one of the top 10 places you need to see before you die, this final event will be another memorable experience. That sailing in the Carribean has been unreal this winter, and the only bummer is that there are not more 32s down here to take part in the action.
Our team on Volpe is in contention for the Carribean Series Title, and with perrenial top finisher Argo not partaking in this event, the overall win will be a battle between Volpe, Delta and Robertissimo.
Check out the action at Melges32.com
No Comments »
No comments yet.TrackBack URL